Monday, October 17, 2005

Ghost of a Muse

Inspired by a story told by Ellen Heston.


Kathy and I were condemned to stay after school one day, the harshest punishment Sister Mary Augustine could devise.

Catholic school is tough at the best of times. For two high spirited girls in the '40s, it was torture. We could never say the right things to win the approval of the cloistered nuns -- the very twinkle in our eyes gave us away. So we stuck together through thick and thin, sure there was more to us than the doctrinal platform would admit.

Kathy was convinced we were headed to greatness, she as an artist and me as a writer. She found inspiration everywhere, in nature, books, art, conversation. My scribblings would try to capture it all. Kathy would praise my work, declaring, "Our muses were speaking clearly today."

So that Wednesday of after school purgatory, we arrived in English class as normal, disapproval awaiting us no matter what we did. Sister Mary Augustine lectured, and then asked a question.

"Miss Black. Please answer."

My mouth opened and words came out. Sister's face transformed to astonished reverence and awe.

"Miss Black!" she gasped. "That's correct! The Holy Ghost has come on you today!"

Then Kathy said that which landed us in jail.

"No," she declared. "It was the muse."


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